Tag Archives: self-image

Who Are You Now?

When a person is abused by a narcissist, they learn to accept the narcissist’s view of who they are.  They accept that they are weak, stupid, ugly, etc etc.  It is especially hard to get rid of such views when the abusive narcissist is a parent, but it can be hard no matter who the narcissist is that puts such dysfunctional, inaccurate views on a person.

 

Even years after the abuse has ended, many people still believe they are weak, ugly, stupid, etc.  It takes a long time to start to see yourself in an accurate way after enduring narcissistic abuse.  I would like to encourage you today, Dear Reader, to look at yourself differently.

 

For a moment, try to put aside all of the criticisms you heard from your narcissist.  Look back over your life.  Think about all of the things you have accomplished.  The things you have done in spite of hearing what a terrible person you were.  Look at how far you have come.  If you’re having trouble, write things down.  Writing things can be surprisingly validating.

 

In spite of the narcissist in your life trying to destroy you (either physically or emotionally or both), you are OK!  You are functioning.  You are surviving.  You are helping & inspiring people, whether you know it or not.  You are so much stronger than you realize!  Sure, you may have some problems stemming from the narcissistic abuse, but that is completely normal.  You are working on your healing & you are growing daily- that is impressive!

 

In spite of realizing these things I know it can be tempting to think of yourself as that dysfunctional victim you once were.  I get it- I do it sometimes myself.  But, try to remind yourself of who you are now, not of who you once were.  You are not the terrible person the narcissist once said you were & you believed you were.  You are strong & fierce.  You have not become bitter or narcissistic yourself.  You are working on becoming your own person.  You also are an adult now, not a child, so if the narcissist in your life is your parent(s), remind yourself of that.  You are no longer a child who felt she needed to obey her parents at all costs.  You are an adult with your own mind & free will.  If you’re a Christian, it is also your duty to put God first, not your parents.  If they insist you put them above God, remind yourself how dysfunctional that is!  You do not owe them anything beyond simple civility, basic respect.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Children Of Narcissists Matter!

Narcissistic parents, be they overt or covert narcissists, make sure that their children know in no uncertain terms that the parents are the important ones, & the children don’t matter.

 

Growing up, my mother came first, always, in every area.  If I was sick, it was an inconvenience for her.  Growing up seemed to be viewed as a betrayal  rather than a normal course of events.  My father, rather than protect me from her constant abuse told me how hard it was for him that it happened.  Then last May, I had a big argument with my parents (I wrote about it here).  I told my mother flat out I felt betrayed by her behavior, & she didn’t care.  In fact, she sat in silence as I poured my heart out, only giving me an occasional bored sigh in response.  That was also the last time she spoke to me.  The conversation with my father was much the same.  He defended himself until I mentioned I felt he betrayed me, then he went silent, obviously not understanding my perspective, just like my mother, then changed the subject.  Since, he’s barely spoken to me & has yet to offer more than a flimsy attempt at an apology.  He brought up the argument a couple of months ago, & still had no concept of why I was angry.

 

Many narcissistic parents are just as hateful as mine are, so I’m sure many of you reading this can relate.  Unfortunately, I also feel safe in guessing that many of you also battle feelings of worthlessness because of it.  How can you not feel worthless when you are reminded in so many hurtful, cruel ways by your own parent that they believe you to be worthless?

 

Dear Reader, I want to remind you today that you are NOT worthless!  You have great value!  Your narcissistic parent lied to you in order to make herself feel better about herself, to feel powerful since she had the ability to tear you down, or to control & manipulate you since those with low self-esteem are easier to control.  Whatever the reason, she did NOT tell you this because you truly are worthless.  You have worth & value.  God says you’re His masterpiece.. did you know that?   Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  (NLT)  That is only one of the many, many things the Bible says about who God says His children are.  I created a list of these Scriptures & put them on my website if you’d like to check it out.  Feel free to print them out if you like, & remind yourself that those Scriptures are the truth, not what your narcissistic parent has to say about you!  Here is the link: http://cynthiabaileyrug.com/Positive-Affirmations.php

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

Who Determines Your Self-Esteem?

I read an interesting quote by Warsan Shire: “Document the moments you feel most in love with yourself- what you’re wearing, who you’re around, what you’re doing.  Recreate & repeat.”  Since I battle low self-esteem, I thought about the times I felt my most confident in the hopes of recreating them.  It was eye opening.

 

I realized the times I felt my most confident weren’t when I had some  personal success or even was wearing a pretty new outfit.  Those feelings were always dependent on another person.  When someone obviously enjoyed being with me or a man telling me how pretty I was.

 

This bothered me.  I don’t like being depending on anyone, especially something so personal.  I asked God why was this happening?  I don’t particularly care what others think of me, so how can I let others determine how I feel about myself?  It makes no sense!  Immediately I knew the answer.

 

When you grow up with at least one narcissistic parent, you learn early that their opinion of you is what matters.  That parent determines your self-esteem, & sadly, it’s always low as a result.  Even if you get to the point of no longer allowing that person to determine your self-esteem, you don’t always know how to stop this dysfunctional habit.   You continue allowing others to determine your self-worth without even realizing it, like I have done.

 

Are you doing the same thing?  (If you are unsure, ask God to show you.)  If you are, then know you aren’t alone.  I honestly had no idea I was doing this until I read the above mentioned quote.

 

I think being aware of what is happening is an important first step, because once you know what the problem is, you can do something to fix it.  After this revelation, I repented.  I told God how sorry I was for allowing anyone but Him to determine my self-esteem & asked for His help to change.  I also asked God to help me get my self-esteem from Him, no one else.

 

Also, years ago I wrote a list of positive affirmations from the Bible that I included on my website.  I plan on reading this list more often now.  The affirmations can be found here: Positive Affirmations

 

In all honesty, I don’t know what to expect from here, but I do believe these steps to be a good starting place for me & I hope for you as well, Dear Reader.  I’m praying for you!  ❤

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

What Is The Difference Between Guilt & Shame?

Many people who have survived abuse, especially childhood abuse, don’t realize there is a vast difference between healthy, normal guilt & toxic shame.  We are taught from day one to feel shame- ashamed of who we are, what we think/feel/do/like/don’t like & more.  This is absolutely deadly to one’s self-esteem.  When you are ashamed of who you are, you want to hide from the world- you don’t want to expose anyone to the terrible person you believe you are.  You would love to be invisible.

Guilt, however, is a very useful, healthy tool in life.  Guilt doesn’t make you feel ashamed of yourself- guilt makes you feel ashamed of something you did that was wrong instead.  Guilt speaks of the action, while shame speaks of who you are.  For example, if you come home after a very trying day, & snap at your husband, you should feel guilt.  Enough guilt for acting that way to make you say, “I’m sorry, Baby.. I’ve had an awful day.  It’s not fair of me to take it out on you though.”  Once your apology is accepted, you let it go.

Shame however, would make you tell yourself that you are a terrible person.  You shouldn’t have acted that way- only a bad person acts like that!  You may or may not apologize- shame may make you feel too embarrassed to apologize- but you will beat yourself up for being such a bad person.

Do you see the difference?  Guilt says, “I did something wrong,” where shame says, “I am wrong & bad.”

Do you have a healthy sense of guilt, or do you feel shame?  If you are in doubt, ask yourself how you feel after doing something that hurts another person’s feelings.  (And yes, you will- we ALL do hurtful things sometimes, no matter how careful we are to avoid it).  If you quickly do what you can to make amends & let it go, then you are feeling healthy guilt.  If you beat yourself up for being a terrible person, you feel shame.

It can be hard to overcome shame, especially after a lifetime of experience with it, but it can be done.  As you work on your healing, your self-esteem naturally improves.  You also see things in a much healthier perspective- you begin to realize that you are NOT at fault for everything, as you heard you were when you were a child.  You realize that things were done to you that you didn’t deserve, & nothing you could have done would have made you deserve to be abused.  These things help you to feel less & less shame as time passes.  

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism